That taxi in the Coldplay video
It’s no news that Hymn for the Weekend, the second single from Coldplay’s new album A Head Full Of Dreams is receiving severe backlash. Released on 29 January, the video was shot in Mumbai and has become the subject of debates about cultural appropriation versus appreciation, and questions about the blink-and-miss appearance of Bollywood actor Sonam Kapoor in favour of singer Beyonce in a desi avatar.
But there is one Mumbai-based art collective that is very excited about the video. About the kali peeli taxi used in the video, in particular. Taxi Fabric, headed by Sanket Avlani has, for close to a year, been working to make the seats of Mumbai taxis a canvas for their art. The goal is to bring art to the streets, and into a Mumbaikar’s daily commute, one taxi (and now even rickshaw) at a time.
The taxi that you see Chris Martin hop in and out of in the video is one that’s passed through Taxi Fabric’s hands. Last August, just a few months after they had started off with a crowdfunded Kickstarter campaign to enable their project, the collective was contacted by the line-producers with an air of secrecy typical to such conversations: they were asked to provide a taxi “for an international band’s upcoming music video.”
The taxi featured in the video was launched in August to mark Independence Day. Created by Karachi based designer Samya Arif, the design is titled Monad (meaning an indivisible entity), and explores commonalities in different hand gestures that are culturally common to India and Pakistan.
“Our judgment (about the video) is a bit clouded, obviously,” says Avlani. “The video has taken us leaps and bounds ahead. More importantly, to get introduced and incorporated in different fields and different media is meaningful for art projects like ours.”
Following Martin’s impromptu performance at a Delhi café in July last year, speculations of the band headlining a music festival, or making a video here have been rife. Taxi Fabric is now getting acknowledged by many across professions from both India and abroad—especially from the US. “It’s taken a foreign band to incorporate us like this,” Avlani says. “But what’s most significant to us is that we are starting to impact the culture of a city.”